Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rahela-Nadine updates, court hearings, justice?

Over the last few months, many Bangla blogs and websites (and a few English ones) have focused their attention on Justice for Rahela, a garment worker who was tortured and left for dead in August-September 2004, but survived for one month to name her assailants, which I also wrote about on her third death anniversary in September in this blog and the Nari Jibon Blog.

Rahela's case as represented by Ain-O-Salish-Kendra will be considered in a court case this next week (end of October) in Bangladesh, see Rezwan citing Bangla blogs and Justice for Rahela blog, Facebook (Justice for Rahela), and Google pages. A Youtube video of Rahela in the hospital speaking of her ordeal and her family during her last month in 2004 has been posted. However, no coverage has appeared in any English language newspapers and supporters of her case have encouraged people to write to English and Bangla newspapers to encourage coverage of her case.

Please watch the video, read the blog entries, and let your voice be heard for justice for Rahela. You can do this through letters to the media (including popular Bangladeshi blogs, many of which have ignored her case), talking with others about this and other forgotten cases, and support brave organizations and survivors that step forward to fight such cases.

BTW the power of some citizen media has been shown in the outpouring of blog and Facebook entries and support for Nadine who is recovering in New York City from an alleged assault-rape by her husband, Sajid Huq, who was arrested by NYC police. His first hearing is scheduled this week as well. At the same time, many of the popular English Bangladeshi blogs and newspapers have ignored this case except for the Daily Star. All of us need to continue to watch the progress of this case in the USA as well as provide support/protection for Nadine's family in Bangladesh, which reportedly has been harassed by the politically powerful Huq family for Nadine filing her case in the USA.

(cross-posted in View from Bangladesh)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ending Domestic Violence

Since 2005, I have hosted a website of resources on domestic violence in Bangladesh (in Bangla and English) as well state by state resources for South Asian women in USA.

Website address:

Many women and men in Bangladesh know little of available resources due to lack of information even though Bangladeshi women experience some of the highest rates of domestic violence in the world (see Ruchira Naveed's [ICDDRB] and others' excellent work). Many women do not want to discuss their struggles and abuse outside of their families.

Knowledge of Bangladeshi and USA resources is very important because Domestic violence (and other forms of violence) travel with migrants and back and forth. Given the transnational locations of many family members, the survivors may be in one country while the abusers move back and forth; and abusers’ families threaten the survivors’ families (esp in Bangladesh).

Recently the Daily Star reported on a Bangladeshi woman (Nadine) who is fighting for her life in New York city after her new husband, blogger-writer, and Columbia university lecturer (Sajid Huq) allegedly beat and raped her. She called the police who arrested Sajid on rape and abuse charges. Her abusive husband's elite family is threatening her family with false cases. More recently many prominent Bangladeshi women's organizations and leaders have protested the continued harassment of Nadine and her family and called for justice in Bangladesh and USA. Another blog provides insights and pictures from survivor Nadine. Some have organized on Facebook a group to provide Justice for Nadine! while others are speaking up and writing to challenge the victim-blaming anti-Nadine activities of the abuser's, family, and friends who have posted misinformation on these websites!

These adamant denials, reprisals, and harassment against an educated woman from an elite family show the continued need for more education and activism against violence against women in all contexts and classes. Many women know when they speak up and refuse to be abused or file charges, that others will step up their abuse of the woman and her family to keep them silent and/or in their place or drop charges. Or com/promises to behave are made and the cycle of abuse continues. If this can happen to an elite women, what is a poor woman to do?

At least, the USA has laws against domestic violence and rape that an immigrant woman can use if she knows of them and/or trusts the police, while Bangladesh still has no specific laws against domestic violence despite many meetings, networks, and donor dollars. Meanwhile, the results from USA immigration laws-policy on migrants seeking asylum in USA from abusive partners who hold their spousal visas have been so-so, even though abused women can seek a visa in their own right (please contact a shelter program near you in USA for more information). At the same time, the abused woman was supposed to report promptly her abuse to the local police in USA, but many women do not trust the USA police and/or do not know of any options. Further, in 2005 and onwards, I have learned that many USA and Bangladeshi organizations did not have one another’s contact information to share information about laws and programmes. I have continued to share these resources over time, for example, the excellent links on Adhunika's domestic violence post.

****Check out a new resource from January 2008: New Blogsite OUT AGAINST ABUSE to educate and organize the South Asian Community about domestic violence-gender abuse--please read, comment, and discuss this resource!****

I hope to update the article resources soon. I would appreciate any comments, updates, as well. These resources were developed as part of my research-work in Bangladesh with Dr. Rifat Akhter (who developed USA resource list), Dr. Mahmuda Islam (who visited many USA locations and informed my Bangladesh work), and Mr. Saiful Islam (who has visited many NGOS working to end domestic violence in Bangladesh and co-wrote and translated the English-Bangla brochure).

Bhalo thakben to all the brave women and men who are working to end violence against women, children, and men!

also cross posted on Bangladesh from Our View

Monday, October 8, 2007

Durga Returns Home!

Last week, I took Durga (the older Balinese kitten) in for a spay and hernia repair. The vet found unexpected congenital problems, which she fixed, but didn't think Durga would survive post-op. To everyone's surprise, Durga did survive and three days later drank water, started eating on day four and today on day six, I brought her back home. She's glad to be home and see her little brother Madhu (who was very lonely, but enjoyed the one-one attention). He's been checking and cleaning her and vice a versa.

Her vet, Dr. Kirkpatrick, called Durga, "miracle kitten" and I am also very grateful to Dr. K at the Kitty Klinic for her miracle-making surgery and post-op care. Of course, shakti Durga showed every one.

Madhu (left) checks out Durga's stitches

Madhu cleans while Durga sleeps.....

Thanks to everyone for their concern and healing thoughts during this time! Back to other works and topics soon, including continued monitoring of Bangladesh internet, Eid Shopping, and garment worker woes. An early Eid Mubarak to Nari Jibon office and Bangladeshi-Muslim friends.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Free Burma

cyber censorship bangladesh?

As an ominous prequel to the Burma blog protest 4 Oct 07 ( in response to recent events, crackdowns, closure of blogs, internets, and deaths of many protestors):

E-Bangladesh & Rezwan's The Third World View have reported that RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) and BTRC (Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission) members are conducting house to house searches of fast computer connections. They have demanded this information from assorted ISPs (connection providers). Their searches are going beyond supposed searches for VOIP equipment (illegal in Bangladesh), but also seeking users' administrative and user passwords, too. Supposedly Bangladesh's submarine cable for internet services has been cut for the third time by miscreants. During the September riots in Bangladesh, the Govt ordered mobile networks to close and the submarine cable was 'cut' two times, effectively isolating Bangladesh except for people who had land-line phones and dial up computer connections.

Very difficult to teach women (and others) on how to use computers under such conditions (including frequent loadshedding) as well as conduct cyber-commerce-communication for much needed revenues and Bangladesh's development. So should we concentrate educating garment workers who average around five years of education to improve their productivity on low-end garments? In contrast with some nearby countries with garment factories, the vast majority of garment workers do not use computerized machines, but the factory owners, managers do so to receive orders and designs from abroad.

Ironically these reports emerge the day before BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Employers Association) makes its case in Washington, D.C. for maintaining good trade status (GSP--generalized system of preference) with USA despite claims by the AFL-CIO affiliates that few or no labour unions function in factories and EPZs. Bangladeshi newspapers report dramatic declines in the future orders by garment factories and their lowly paid female employees! Orders have gone to other countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, and China. Others have noted discontent among garment workers vs. usual conspiracy theories.

So like the previous attempts to curtail mobile and internet use by the military backed Caretaker government, I hope that this current crackdown ends soon so the the students and Bangladeshi workers can get on with their uncensored learning, use of computers, and improving Bangladesh's presence & productivity in the emerging global-cyber economy. Also the USA, which has poured millions of democracy and women's empowerment dollars into Bangladesh and nearby countries, must acknowledge the increasing prevalence of military backed governments in the region.

(**Notably, E-Bangladesh is edited by Tasneem Khahil, a 'former' Daily Star reporter, who was arrested by GOB agents for a previous Blog posting during January-February and now is in exile in Europe; Rezwan blogs from Germany)

UPDATES: See discussions and latest links as well as Bangladesh print media's silence on these issues b/c many newspaper-publishers are under government scrutiny-investigations-financial

Meanwhile Bangladesh's testimony before the US Trade Commission on GSP status has resulted in not a single story in mainstream USA media, but only in Daily Star coverage. However, garment factory owners and BGMEA have been warned by government advisers to pay salaries and holiday bonuses by 11 Oct 07 to avoid any more protests by garment workers; such protests might deter potential RMG buyers and orders, which are already very limited.